Report: US team in charge of Iraq rebuilding to be replaced
The senior US officials in charge of running post-war Iraq are being relieved of their jobs in what American sources said was part of a broad shake-up of U.S. operations in Iraq, the Washington Post reported on Sunday.
Retired U.S. Gen. Jay Garner, who has overseen the reconstruction of Iraq over the last three weeks, will be departing with some of his top aides, possibly within a week or two, the newspaper reported.
Although Garner had said before the war he would stay in Iraq for about three months, President Bush on Tuesday appointed L. Paul Bremer III, a retired diplomat and counterterrorism expert, to be the senior civilian in charge of rebuilding the country's government and infrastructure.
Barbara Bodine, a former ambassador to Yemen and the American coordinator for central Iraq and the effective post-war mayor of Baghdad, will leave for Washington on Sunday to take a senior post at the State Department, the US daily added.
Bodine had been in charge of restoring public services and laying the foundations for a democratic government in Iraq, tasks critics say Washington has failed to tackle effectively.
It was not immediately clear why Secretary of State Colin L. Powell asked Bodine to leave. Some observers have criticized her performance, saying she possessed impressive diplomatic skills but not the management know-how to run Iraq's largest city, which was pummeled during the war and ransacked by looters after the fall of Saddam Hussein and the Baath Party government.
While the departure of Garner and Bodine come amid concerns that U.S. efforts to restore order to Baghdad following the war have fallen short, some U.S. officials involved in rebuilding Iraq are now concerned the change in personnel could further slow operations in Iraq, the Post reported.
Several people involved in the process have said Garner and his staff -- as well as his superiors at the Pentagon -- did not properly plan for the task, from repairing damage suffered during the war to restarting government ministries and forming an Iraqi-led interim administration.
The newspaper also reported that the American military unit directing the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq is dismantling its operations and will likely leave Iraq in June.
The 75th Exploitation Task Force has so far failed to find any of the suspected biological and chemical weapons that Bush used as a pretext to launch the war against Iraq. The Post cited Army officials as saying many suspected weapons sites were looted and burned before U.S. troops could reach them. (Albawaba.com)
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